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Dog theft action update Dog theft and microchips

AT A recent meeting between DTA, the Kennel Club, Dogs Trust and Pet Log Reunification service the subject of microchipping was discussed, with all four organisations declaring their unreserved support for this means of permanently identifying dogs. However it was felt that improvements to the service could be made, which if adopted could contribute to more dogs being reunited with their owners and reducing the numbers of dogs in rescue centres.

This led to the Kennel Club, Pet Log and RCVS issuing a joint statement with regard to the concerns of vets who suspect that a dog presented for treatment, is in fact stolen. (See below)
DTA believes that veterinary surgeons could play a vital role in the campaign against dog theft.

If all dogs presented at surgeries for treatment were scanned to ensure that any microchip inside the dog was registered in the current owners’ name who knows what discrepancies might come to light? This procedure would only take a few minutes after biographical and geographical details were recorded and could be carried out by a veterinary nurse trained to scan dogs correctly. DTA would also ask veterinary practices to use the national database for lost, stolen and found dogs – - to obtain information about any matters of concern.

DTA co-ordinator and founder of Doglost UK Jayne Hayes said; "The joint statement issued by the KC Pet Log and the RCVS is extremely welcome and we hope that this information will allay the fears of the many vets who have contacted Doglost UK concerned that they will be breaching client confidentiality if they pass on details to the Pet Log Reunification Service.

"However I would suggest that incidents of this nature are not rare. If vets routinely scanned all dogs I believe that there would be far more frequent occasions of stolen dogs being discovered. A recent case highlights this perfectly: a Staffordshire bull terrier, found straying by a member of the public who took it to her vet so that it could be scanned. The dog was proved to have been stolen fifteen month ago! However the dog had stitches in its leg and was obviously being treated by another vet who hadn’t scanned it prior to treatment."

DTA understand that this is a matter for individual veterinary practices but we ask vets up and down the country to consider the plight of the many responsible dog owners who have taken the trouble to permanently identify their pet, only to find themselves in the dreadful position of having that beloved pet stolen and being able to do very little about it. Currently dog thieves have it all their own way and we want to change this.

DTA also wishes to encourage owners to be vigilant about their dogs’ chips and to ask their vet to scan their dogs annually at a specific time so that it is easily remembered e.g. prior to annual boosters, before Christmas, in the New Year or even near to the owner’s or the dog’s birthday. That way malfunctioning and migrating chips can be identified and advice sought from an appropriate source bringing some reassurance that in the event of a dog being stolen the chip is known to be working.

Since its launch in March our website has included a letter written by a supporter of DTA, that can be downloaded and forwarded or given to vets by the dog owning public asking them to scan dogs routinely.

This subject is very close to the hearts of DTA’s co-ordinators. One of our main objectives is to encourage the thorough identification of all stray dogs by the agencies working in this aspect of animal welfare. Local authority dog wardens, rescue centres and sanctuaries and also, the police - until the end of the consultation period set out by DEFRA under the terms of the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act, can all have an impact on this emotive issue.

We would encourage these agencies to scan the whole dog so that migrating chips in body parts other than the scruff can be found. We have heard that chips have moved down to the chest, forelegs and necks of some dogs, so it seems appropriate here to remind scanner operatives to check the dog thoroughly before concluding that there is no chip present before notifying the local authority dog warden, giving a description of the dog and details of its whereabouts.

We hope that all these agencies will endeavour to scan all dogs - even those donated for re-homing - so that they can identify any dogs that are microchipped and reunite them with their owners as soon as possible. We strongly recommend scanning dogs who have been donated to rescue centres because they are not considered suitable for that particular home. It is possible that dogs who display unsettled behaviour could actually have been stolen and re-homed and are grieving for their original home?

DTA welcomes this joint statement by the RCVS the KC and Pet Log Reunification Service, clarifying their position so that there are no ambiguities. It is an extremely encouraging step forward and we look forward to hearing of other organisations that are willing to stand up for responsible dog ownership.

Margaret Nawrockyi –
DTA co-ordinator